Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes people discomfort through body pain. There are other simultaneous issues associated with it like sleep disruption, overwhelming fatigue, etc. One therapy that’s been used to treat this is acupuncture. But does acupuncture help fibromyalgia?
Acupuncture has proven to be effective in reducing fibromyalgia symptoms and pain. It is an ancient Chinese therapy that uses needles to stimulate certain bodily metabolisms. The production of endorphin, which is a natural pain-relieving substance, makes this treatment a charm in treating fibromyalgia. Moreover, it helps with other symptoms as well.
This article will look closely at fibromyalgia, its symptoms, and its risk factors. Moreover, we will see how acupuncture works and treats the disorder. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Fibromyalgia and How Common is It?
Fibromyalgia is a condition that is long-lasting and causes pain throughout the body. It also causes tenderness in the whole body, exhaustion, and difficulty sleeping.
It’s a condition that affects around 5% of the global population, with a notable female predominance ranging from 80% to 96%. It usually prevails between the ages of 30 and 50 but can also affect individuals of all ages, like children and seniors.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
There are many symptoms of Fibromyalgia. The main ones include:
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Pain that is widespread or chronic in the whole body. It may occur in the legs, chest, head, abdomen, back, arms, or buttocks. People usually convey it as aching, searing, or pulsing.
- Weariness or an overtaking sensation of tiredness.
There are some more symptoms, including-
- Immobility in muscles and joints.
- Numb arms and legs.
- Tingling sensations.
- Touch tenderness.
- Digestive disorders like constipation, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or bloating.
- A condition often called ‘fibro fog’ that makes it difficult to concentrate, think, and remember.
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome
- Acute senses of light, smell, sound, and temperature.
Causes of Fibromyalgia
Scientists are yet to find the root cause of fibromyalgia. However, one common thing among the sufferers is elevated pain sensitivity. Pain perception abnormality is the term used to describe this condition.
Some research and studies, including brain imaging, have discovered altered signaling in pain receptor neurons in fibromyalgia patients. Such alterations can be responsible for the patients’ tiredness, sleep disorders, and mental problems.
Genetic factors are believed to influence fibromyalgia, as it tends to be present in families. However, the specific genes involved are not yet clearly understood.
Experimenters also suggest that non-genetic environmental elements may influence a person’s likelihood of acquiring the condition.
Such elements can include-
- Having a painful disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
- Mental disorders like depression or anxiety.
- Being a female or middle-aged as it prevails in these categories.
- Joint injury caused by frequent stress like knee bending.
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
How Does Acupuncture Work?
In Western medicine, acupuncture treatment (dry needling) follows a medical diagnosis, like fibromyalgia. It involves the stimulation of the underskin and muscle sensory nerves.
The procedure involves pricking the skin with fine needles to treat health issues. The needles can either be manually manipulated or provoked with slight electricity, which is also known as electroacupuncture. The latter is believed to be more effective in treating fibromyalgia.
Due to acupuncture, the body releases substances like endorphins that relieve pain. The positive effects of acupuncture are most likely caused by these naturally occurring substances released during the treatment.
Conventionally, this practice has been sustained for no less than 2,500 years. Conventional acupuncture is rooted in the idea that the body contains a life force called Qi (enunciated “chee”). It flows via channels known as meridians.
Practitioners of this ancient practice consider that when Qi flow is intercepted or disrupted, it can cause illness. They believe acupuncture helps restore the free outpouring of Qi, thereby promoting healing and wellness.
Western medicine is of the belief that acupuncture boosts different body mechanisms, like:
- Peripheral nervous system
- How the immune system responds to inflammation
- Spinal glial cells
- Pain-relieving systems like endogenous opioids
- CNS’s dysfunctional pain control system caused by fibromyalgia
How Does Acupuncture Help Fibromyalgia?
Researches indicate that acupuncture is an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, a prevalent disease. Fibromyalgia patients can benefit from acupuncture, as it has been shown to be effective in relieving pain.
Endorphin is a substance that plays a game-changing role when it comes to relieving pain through acupuncture.
Moreover, acupuncture can actually ease the simultaneous symptoms in fibromyalgia patients, like
- Sleep disruption
Acupuncture can improve blood flow and increase energy levels, making it an effective treatment for chronic fatigue. It is also commonly used to address headaches by stimulating specific facial acupuncture points.
What Should You Expect?
Acupuncture treatments can be availed of either in a private medical office or as a group treatment in a clinic. Usually, group sessions are more affordable compared to private ones.
During your first acupuncture appointment, your practitioner will ask you about your health and concerns. As you’ll be taking the session for fibromyalgia, expect most questions to revolve around that condition. This Q&A session makes the first session longer than others.
Afterward, needles will be inserted into specific points along the body’s meridians, depending on imbalanced areas and the treatment plan.
The sterile, disposable needles are thin and cause little to no discomfort for most fibromyalgia patients. The number of needles used varies. They are typically left in for 20 to 30 minutes. 20 minutes is the typical time in most cases.
How Many Sessions Do You Need?
The number of acupuncture sessions needed depends on the severity of your pain and your situation. Relief can be felt after the first session, but most experience relief after 6-8 sessions. The duration can be a month if you take 2 sessions a week on average.
The frequency of sessions should be personalized based on your pain level and other symptoms. The probability of instant relief increases if you take the session within a couple of years of being diagnosed. Mild issues can be treated with two treatments at an interval of 4 weeks or so. You should visit every week if there are severe symptoms.
However, If no improvement is seen after 3 months, consider seeking alternative treatments.
Where to Find Acupuncture Treatments for Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture treatment is something that requires extremely well-trained professionals. That’s because it involves needle insertion. If someone who doesn’t know the meridian locations well performs this, it can make things messy. The pain can add to the existing pain of fibromyalgia.
Don’t worry because The Brost Clinic is here to support you. Our doctors are licensed in acupuncture and Meridian therapies. They use a combination of classic Chinese acupuncture and Electronic Meridian Imaging (EMI). This helps to interpret and treat conditions that may be undetectable to others.
So, what are you waiting for? If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, don’t let the pain kill the joy of your life. Give us a call today to book an appointment for your first acupuncture session. Of course, the first thing to do is to make sure you know what you will be dealing with. This article will help in that regard.